Friday, July 14, 2017

Commander Thordyn's XCOM 2 Advanced Warfare Tactics

Welcome back Commander! We have been compiling field data with known Resistance research and have created this dossier for you to look over. Forward Commander Thordyn has looked over different strategic reports from throughout the Resistance communications network and added some of his own experience on the field to the report as well. As the Elders continue to push back at our efforts, being equipped with knowledge will be our best bet at fighting them back. This guide goes over tactics that any commander can use to boost the benefits of different aspects of the XCOM strategic arsenal from base building, research and upgrade priorities, to in the field combat tactics. Different tactical setups can be effective depending on the Commander, as such this guide does not propose any one team set-up is superior to another, but outlines the strengths of certain classes and encourages thinking about how one soldier's abilities can synergize with others. This guide is designed to be a guide to existing mechanics with all DLC leading up to War of the Chosen, including Alien Hunters and Shen's Last Gift. After the guide is some brief overview of what has been leaked so far of the new DLC War of the Chosen.

Base Building: Making good use of the space we have and maximizing our efficiency will lead to further advantages down the line. To the right is pictured a nearly optimal base layout. A couple of things to note are getting the guerilla tactics and advanced warfare center early on. This will allow you to expand you troop size, thus increase the amount of soldiers getting experience as well. Advance warfare center decreases time for healing and more importantly will allow soldiers to learn random traits.

The second very important thing to notice is the workshop placement at 2nd row center. A workshop will allow you to staff engineers that will then deploy gremlins to staff adjacent facility. Starting off an engineer will be able to create 2 gremlins. This will already double the efficiency of your starting engineers and it is important to put resistance communications and power relay's adjacent to the workshop, since both have 2 slots. A laboratory in my opinion can be important to get early on, being able to increase research speed equipped with knowledge of each tech detailed below will allow you to reach benchmark tech quicker. I think proving ground and psi lab tie on priority at this point, it is up to you which you want to prioritize, experimental arms and armor or deadly psionic agents. Defense matrix is purely a luxury item, the UFO infiltration event on happens once. Shadow Chamber tech is useful to advance the storyline and thus beat back the encroaching advent progress. It will require the focus of both your science and engineering teams so other tech will be paused.

Tech Tree Priority List
Research-  Modular Weapons, Alien Biotech, Advent Officer Autopsy, Resistance Comms and Radio, Magnetic and Gauss Weapons.

The idea is basically that you are setting up the tech that leads into other things and allows you to build up your basic resource gathering mechanics. You build up damage tech first and during combat missions just avoid putting yourself in positions where you are worrying about getting hit, therefore allowing you to delay the armor research. If you are playing in Ironman mode that may mean losing some initial objectives to keep soldiers alive. If you aren't that means well save scumming, but you knew that.

Mid Game- Hybrid Materials, Plated Armor, Elerium, Powered Armor

Now you can go fully into upgrading armor since the Aliens will have improved as well at this point and it gives your squad more utility spots as well which you would have researched: nanoweave armor can be a good mediary tech while you are upgrading your arms first, but consider only giving it to your frontline.

Late: Plasma Rifle and Weapons, finish Shadow Chamber Projects

Finish up the last of the weapons, Shadow Chamber projects as mentioned early mostly open up missions that will largely halt the advance of the advent project. So do these as needed.

Autopsies (general note): Generally you can just wait until autopsies become instant to research them as they provide utility items. A list of all results of autopsies can be found here . Here are my personal priority suggestions:

Guerilla Tactics School Priority List: Wet Work and Squad Size I should be immediate buys. The first increases exp by 25% and the second adds on more slot to your squad going from 4 to 5. Vulture, Integrated Warfare and Squad Size II are next in priority. This is thoroughly useful through the game give you both needed weapon mods and resources like elerium cores to research even more tech. Hold on to all your Personal Combat Stims until you buy this as it does not increase bonuses to already equipped soldiers. Squad Size II brings your squad up to full combat effectiveness at 6 members, this should be immediate priority when available.

Utility Tech high priority list: Battlefield Medicine [1 viper / 5 instant] this increases the effectiveness of the combat heals by 2. It is unadvised to run a team without a medic specialist.

Mindshield / Psionics [1 sectoid / 6 instant] the benefit of having powerful psionic units is fairly obvious, but the mindshield item is unappreciated. Soldiers are prone to the panic condition even without Sectoids psionic attacks. At times soldiers can have their Will shaken, sending this soldier in with a mindshield will make them immune from again falling into the panic state which they would otherwise would be prone to and can increase their will stat through successful completion of the mission.

Advanced Grenade Launcher / Plasma Grenade [1 muton / 5 instant]
The grenadier class is excellent at neutralizing enemy cover, armor and initiating ambushes, they are a keystone of an effective combat team, increasing their capabilities therefore benefits the team.

Gremlin Mark II [1 advent mech / 3 instant] Gremlin III [1 sectopod / 3 instant] (research at 1 sectopod, don't wait for instant) - Even if you are running with only a medical specialist you can drastically increase their utility by upgrading their gremlins, increasing their ability to hack can allow you to effectively give your squad benefits through hacking and during certain objectives a successful hack can have much larger benefits from increased supplies and intel to continent based bonuses. If you do decide to have an mechanical specialists, you increase their effective damage as well, which can help you even more effectively deal with the difficult mechanized units.

Additional utility items to consider: Mimic Beacon can be abused be throwing it behind cover effectively giving it a cover bonus and therefore allowing it to distract longer. Battle Scanner and Blue Screen Protocol can be an effective way to transfer a lot of the abilities of your combat hacker to other classes or you can combo them to further increase their hack effectiveness as every hit with an EMP attack lowers their hack score and a Colonel gunslinger can get five attacks on a Sectopod, giving you a huge advantage in hacking.

Class Strengths Overview

Sharpshooter: The only skill that is optional is Dead eye and Lightning hands. Lightning hands lets you fire your pistol off as a free action, which gives you great flexibility. Dead eye seemingly trades mobility for more damage, but with serpent or spider suit (w/ a grapple) gives you a free movement to higher ground letting you use Dead eye in the same turn. The Higher Ground skill also synergizes with the the grapple suits as well the Icarus suit. The experimental Ammo research synergizes well with this class as it effects both the rifle and pistol Dragon and Venom armor will give damaged enemies a Damage over Time effect. AP can also be good for obvious reasons.

Ranger: There is a consensus that having one Ranger with the Phantom skill in order to have one scout for missions where you drop in already concealed can be very effective. It is my opinion that the Bladestorm and Untouchable skill are must haves. Bladestorm allows you to take what is know in most tabletop RPGs as as "attack of opportunity". This procs fairly often, Mutons and Archons like to melee, you hit them first. Even when vipers snare you with their tongue, you get an attack as you reach them. I personally run Rangers with Assault Rifles instead of shotguns, I tend to like to have them poke at range and then finish close with swords.

 Specialist: A medical specialist is often a smart choice to have to counter the unexpected, I will also make the case for the advantages of having a combat hacker as well. Two skills are must haves for either tree they are Threat Assessment and Ever Vigilant. The first gives needed utility to the Aid Protocol ability, which allows your other soldiers to do a full move action and still Overwatch. Ever Vigilant does the same thing for yourself when making a full move action. Combat Hackers deal with mechanical units by doing more damage and ignoring armor. At higher levels you can take control of units, but beyond their obvious effectiveness there are some not so obvious benefits from having a combat specialist. Combat protocol is a surprising effective tool at finishing off enemies that run away. They use squad sight for targettting, thus giving them a larger range or effectiveness of even snipers. There is no roll for this attack therefore any attack is essentially 100%. The initial damage is only 2, so but can be upgraded with gremlin upgrades. Haywire allows you to stun and if you are lucky take over units, this includes turrets which are prevalent even in early game. Capacitor charge has a large AoE and can stun and disorient even biological units. Beyond even that prioritizing Gremlin upgrades and giving your combat hacker and advantage on map hacks gives you squad uprades and during certain objectives will give you resource advantages which with proper resource management can gain a lot of early game momentum.

Grenadier: Suppression and Shredder are the two must have skills for any grenadier. Supression allows you to lockdown an enemy character regarless of the percentage to hit for the grenadier. It is highly recommended to have one Demolitions expert, because a basic combat tactic is to initiate combat with a grenade since while in concealment most Advent troops will move in tight groups giving you the maximum effectiveness on your grenades. Going the Heavy Gunner tree in my opinion is a good alternative to having a Combat Hacker Specialist, since you will need some way of taking down heavily armored targets. Grenadiers and Spark Units heavily synergize with the Proving Grounds Facility. Acid Grenades and the Shredder heavy mounted weapon are both great at destroying cover and shredding armor. The E.X.O , R.A.G.E and W.A.R suits give grenadiers the extra grenade slot and heavy weapon and powered weapon mount as well.

Psi Operative: A powerful unit, the only must have skill is Fortress which makes the operative immune to fire, acid, poison and explosive damage. Beyond that you can largely customize the Psi-Operative to benefit your squad concept. I will say though null lance is a very effective attack from range.

Spark Operative: Very strong frontline unit, somewhat redundant with other units, uses a lot of resources to upgrade armor and weapons separately. Effective if paired with extensive proving ground research. Homing Rocket is probably one of the best upgrades as they can allow you to engage targets on roofs and around cover. I honestly have no opinion on any of the skills, you build it around what kind of gap you are trying to fill in your squad.

Basic Combat Tactics:

This guide only has a Basic Combat Tactics section, because advanced combat tactics will be determined by the type of synergies you create within your squads. This will outline a few basic concepts and tactics that will be effective for any squad.

It is almost never a good idea to do a full move action in one turn, even if you know with 100% certainty that is what you want your soldier to do. See the pathing your soldier would take to get to that point and find the move that takes you furthest with one action point. You still get to make the full movement but you have allowed your soldier to do a scout action which if their new position reveals an enemy squad will give them an action to get into cover.

Intel is a valuable resource, obvious for expanding the resistance network, but great for use at the black market to purchase advanced gun mods and PCS's. Also, not to be ignored is the intel you probably have been ignoring without realizing it. During every mission there is a box in the upper right that details exactly what enemies to expect on any given mission, this should be used to form the squad that you send in, though typically unknown enemies will be represented with a ???.

Think outside the box for gear and armor, build towards a larger concept that counters something the aliens do or just generally makes you more combat effective. As I mentioned before the Spider and Serpent suits for snipers can be interesting solution to the weakness in their mobility. My combat hacker wears a Serpent Suit, because the mobility of the grapple on top of the freeze from the suit coupled with freeze grenade allows for a unit that can get into a potentially dangerous area neutralize the targets do a hack and then get out.

Maybe you want to build a very mobile squad with mostly gunslingers, rangers and spark units. Consider prioritizing mods like auto loader and laser sight for quick consistent crits and having both blade and gun focused rangers. Threat Assessment and Ever Vigilant from the specialist can also synergize well. Consider purchasing Serpent or Spider Suits for the whole group as this while increase their mobility even more.

Maybe you want to build a squad that is heavy psionics and combat hackers to deal specifically with organic and inorganic units. I would recommend changing research priority to armor and autopsies specifically on the sectoid, advent mec and sectopods. Research right away and don't wait for the instant research to pop up since your primary weapons are now effectively the Gremlin and PSI amp.

Maybe you want to throw caution to the wind and just go heavy ordinance Spark Units and Grenadiers no PSI operatives at all. You definitely want to invest heavily in the Proving Ground and Engineers/ Workshop. A lot of your effectiveness will come from researched tech. I would also possibly invest in a scanning beacon since you won't have the mobility of other squads or the alternative Scanning Protocol from combat hackers. 

The tactics are yours to explore, but the idea is to try to get as much synergy to stack as possible but to make sure you are also covering your weaknesses.

The War Ahead: Defeating the chosen
Now that you have been properly briefed with your combat effectiveness training it is time to look at the challenges ahead and how this will effect everything you have learned. We have pieced together from the intel we have gotten the potential new boons and threats that await us.

Strange Bedfellows: three new factions have allied with the Resistance, Commander. They are known as the Reapers, the Templar, and the Skirmishers. The Reapers favor stealthy combat whereas the Skirmishers are... less subtle and the Templar deal with psionics. You may lean one way or the other based on your tactical style, but we needed both of their help to get you back, it looks like we will need to continue to work together to defeat

The Reapers make use of a mechanic called shadow concealment, which will essentially roll on whether concealment is broken for each attack with diminishing returns. The use of claymore triggered explosives and remote start can change combat from stealthy to explosive instantly.

The Skirmishers make use of a grapple gauntlet that give these soldiers added mobility as well as the ability to pull enemies from cover, launch themselves in for a deadly melee attack and applying effects such as shock damage. High ranking skirmishers have abilities like Reflex that allow them to take an additional action when fired on. Battlelord grants an immediate action after an enemy takes theirs.

The Templar are a mysterious group and not much is known of them other then that they proclaim to be allied with our cause. There is some speculation that this group may be able to harness some amount of psionic abilities to gain advantages in combat. The seem to rely on a resource they call focus. Rumors have said that some higher level Templar can reflect attacks back on attackers.

The Chosen: Not to be underestimated, these are the personal guard of the Elders. Not much is known about these units, other then that they seem to mix powerful psionic abilities with different combat styles. We have collected limited intel on two of the Chosen. The chosen also do not necessarily always seek to annihilate our soldier and will attempt to siphon knowledge from a soldier and will take hostage.

The Assassin: appears to be a unit that relies heavily on stealth and techniques to distract our units, and then utilizing that opportunity to launch deadly melee attack. This unit appears to run active camouflage.

The Warlock: this unit appears to rely solely on psionic attacks, but as a result is the most proficient of the three. The unit appears able to chain targetted psionic attacks as well as create psi-zombies from thin air that can be told to detonate at a target location. He is a zealot with the belief that the Elders are Gods and favor him above even the other Chosen.

The Hunter: Nothing is know about this unit other then their designation as "the Hunter" it is postulated that perhaps this unit would specialize in combat tricks and ranged weapons, based on the designation and roles fulfilled by the others in his rank.

Additional enemies have been sighted with designations Priest, Purifier and Spectre. No intel has been acquired on these units, however there is some information on "the Lost" enemy type. They are often seen in groups and large sounds such as explosives will trigger more in the area to investigate. They are especially vulnerable to headshots and soldiers in the field can take an additional action after successful headshots. They are very zombie-like in look and behavior.

New soldier mechanics that are being introduced are bonds and compatibility which is a stat that every soldier will having regarding every other soldier, which can be used to give bonuses to two soldiers with high compatibility that go on missions more often will increase the bond capability. If one of the bond members falls in combat the other goes into a berserker rage which is a tweak to the panic condition. Another new condition is fatigue which is accumulated as a soldier goes on consecutive missions, which can lead to the tired condition which lowers Wil and will trigger panic conditions more easily. The Advanced Warfare Center is now split into three facilities: the Infirmary, the Resistance Ring which deals with covert actions and the Training Center which allows you to purchase abilities for your soldiers.

XCOM 2 War of the Chosen DLC releases on August 28th.


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